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The David Story 1: Little Things Matter

June 18, 2012

A sermon preached at the White Plains Presbyterian Church on the Third Sunday after Pentecost, June 17, 2012. This is the first sermon in our summer series on the Book of Samuel and the biblical David.

 Mark 4: 26-34          1 Samuel 15: 34 – 16:3

The parables of seeds from Mark 4, including the mustard seed, were read before the recongition of church school teachers. Each teacher was given potted herbs for their kitchen/garden in appreciation for their nurture of our children.

Our second reading today is from the Book of Samuel. It the first part of the story of David, the little shepherd boy, who became the king of Israel. The story of David is the story of a passionate, fallible, faithful and deeply flawed man, whose rapid rise to power is matched only by his steady failure and decline until he is left old and bitter.  It is one of the most powerful narratives in scripture, indeed, the ancient world, and we will be reading from it all summer long.

In our reading today, we meet Samuel, the prophet, on the road to Bethlehem.  Samuel has known disappointment. He was disappointed with his own sons, who abused their privilege of serving as God’s priests. He was disappointed with God’s people, who preferred to have an earthly king, a king like all the other nations, rather than be ruled directly by God.  And then he was disappointed with Israel’s first king. Yes, he was bitterly disappointed with King Saul, the man he himself had anointed as God’s messiah when he poured the oil over his head and declared him king of God’s people.  But mostly he was disappointed with God, who had let it all get so out of control.

But now God has chosen a new king, for a new beginning, and Samuel is searching for him. He headed for Bethlehem, the home of Jesse, who is reported to have many sons, one of whom God has already chosen to be the second king of Israel. Will the prophet recognize the future king when he sees him?

Listen for the Word of God.

[Read 1 Samuel 15: 34 – 16:3 from the Contemporary English Bible]

This is God’s Word for God’s People. Thanks be to God.

At one point or another we can all relate to David, can’t we, left out and overlooked, thought too small, too unimportant, to be considered, or even noticed. Teachers, coaches, older siblings, friends, even parents may overlook us – but God “looks on the heart,” knows who we really are and appreciates who we may yet be and what we may yet do. And this doesn’t change with age, does it? Colleagues, bosses, a society that judges by outward appearance, and yes, still parents, may overlook us – but God “looks on the heart,” knows who we really are and appreciates who we may yet be and what we may yet do. God can even see what we may not yet see in ourselves – a child of God; created, called, and gifted to make a difference in the world.

The two parables about growing seeds read earlier complement this story about David. God uses small things like seeds, a shepherd boy, and us, to do important things, such as produce flowers, rule a nation, and build God’s kingdom. Children, this means that you can do important work.  Just as God works on seeds, God works in your kind words and your attempts to live God’s way every day. For children who are older, and youth who are beginning to dream big dreams of what you might do with your life – don’t devalue the things you can do now.  For adults, these stories serve as an important reminder to pay attention to seemingly small things, and their great potential for good and ill.

 [At this point I read The Quarreling Book, by Charlotte Zolotow, with pictures by Arnold Lobel. All of the illustrations had been scanned into powerpoint and were projected into the worship space. The story is about how a series of small actions ruin a day, as each person in the book passes on to others the hurt they have received – until everything is turned around by a small dog licking the face of a boy.]

Who hasn’t been on the receiving end of someone else’s hurt, anger or frustration?  And who among us hasn’t also been on the giving end?  At home?  At school? At your office? Even at church? And who among us hasn’t had the opportunity to turn that around?

Small actions, like the seeds in these parables, produce significant results.   So can we.



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